Autos

The Most Dangerous States to Drive In

5. Arkansas
> Average auto fatalities per 100,000: 21.6
> Auto fatalities/year: 619 (22nd most)

> Lifetime medical costs due to 1-yr. auto accidents: $4,775,033 (24th lowest)
> Lifetime work loss costs due to 1-yr. auto accidents: $617,945,384 (24th highest)
> Pct. commuters traveling 30 mins. or more: 26.02% (13th lowest)

Arkansas has the fifth-highest rate of auto injury fatalities. Between 2007 and 2009, the state averaged 21.6 fatalities per 100,000 residents per year. Arkansas has implemented a comprehensive highway safety plan for 2012. In the plan, the Highway Safety Office set specific goals for reducing DWI deaths, increasing seat belt usage, and slowing drivers down. The HSO hopes to accomplish these goals by bolstering training programs for law enforcement officials and educating the people through a series of high visibility campaigns.

4. Wyoming
> Average auto fatalities per 100,000: 21.7 (tied 3rd highest)
> Auto fatalities/year: 116 (7th least)
> Lifetime medical costs due to 1-yr. auto accidents: $947,934 (4th lowest)
> Lifetime work loss costs due to 1-yr. auto accidents: $107,859,504 (7th lowest)
> Pct. commuters traveling 30 mins. or more: 16.43% (3rd lowest)

Wyoming had an average of 21.7 auto injury fatalities per 100,000 people during each year between 2007 and 2009. Though the state has the smallest population in the country, with just 533,556 residents, its lifetime work loss costs due to auto fatalities are estimated to exceed an $100 million in a single year. Only about 16% of Wyoming’s workers commute more than 30 minutes a day, the third-lowest rate in the U.S. Despite the high fatality rate, Wyoming has not been proactive in addressing the issue legally. Presently, Wyoming does not have a primary seat belt law, nor a mandatory ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers — only those who register a blood alcohol content of .15 receive the interlock. Additionally, attempts to ban texting in the state have failed in each of the past two years.

3. Alabama
> Average auto fatalities per 100,000: 21.7 (tied 3rd highest)
> Auto fatalities/year: 1,014 (11th most)
> Lifetime medical costs due to 1-yr. auto accidents: $8,254,510 (15th highest)
> Lifetime work loss costs due to 1-yr. auto accidents: $964,444,444 (13th highest)
> Pct. commuters traveling 30 mins. or more: 32.85% (19th highest)

Alabama’s auto fatalities rate of 21.7 per 100,000 residents is tied for third highest. One year worth of such fatalities cost an estimated $8.2 million in medical costs, more than all but 14 states. Such an elevated rate of auto fatalities is surprising when contrasted with the state’s 91.4% seat belt usage rate. The high rate of auto injury deaths may be attributable in part to the lack of several key safety laws. Alabama does not mandate ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers or requires booster seats for children under eight years of age.

2. Montana
> Average auto fatalities per 100,000: 23.3 (2nd highest)
> Auto fatalities/year: 225 (11th least)
> Lifetime medical costs due to 1-yr. auto accidents: $1,831,676 (12th lowest)
> Lifetime work loss costs due to 1-yr. auto accidents: $195,289,017 (11th lowest)
> Pct. commuters traveling 30 mins. or more: 18.05% (4th lowest)

With an auto injury fatality annual average of 23.3 per 100,000 residents in the period between 2007 and 2009, Montana has the second-highest rate on the list. The problem may be due in part to drunk driving. In 2007, Montana had 11.1 drunk driving auto deaths per 100,000 residents, the highest rate for that year. Montana has done little to respond to these figures. The state has not adopted any of the four auto-safety policies that were identified as critical by the CDC. Despite the high fatality rate, the medical costs and work loss costs associated with them rank in the bottom 15.

1. Mississippi
> Average auto fatalities per 100,000: 26.7 (the highest)
> Auto fatalities/year: 784 (19th most)
> Lifetime medical costs due to 1-yr. auto accidents: $7,158,007 (19th highest)
> Lifetime work loss costs due to 1-yr. auto accidents: $823,487,544 (17th highest)
> Pct. commuters traveling 30 mins. or more: 30.83% (25th lowest)

Mississippi had the highest motor vehicle-related death rate in the country between 2007 and 2009. An average of 784 state residents die each year in accidents, or 26.7 fatalities per 100,000 people. According to the most recent CDC data, a single year of auto deaths in the state has an estimated cost of more than $820 million in lost productivity. The state has a primary seat belt law, and motorcycle helmets are mandatory, but it does not have a mandatory ignition lock for convicted drunk drivers, and is one of 18 states not to have mandatory booster seats for those eight or younger.

Mike Sauter

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